Ovid’s poem on the death of a parrot


Supporting Vendor
Oct 9, 2016
Middle of nowhere (kentuckianna)
Roommates include Gus, Blue and gold macaw rescue and Coco, secondhand amazon
I think this is a couple thousand years old, but it’s still a fine poem. I don’t know Latin so here are a couple of translations.

Elegy VI: On the Death of His Mistress's Parrot. By Creech.​

Alas! poor Poll, my Indian talker, dies!
Go, birds, and celebrate his obsequies;
Go, birds, and beat your breasts, your faces tear,
And pluck your gaudy plumes instead of hair;
Let doleful tunes the frighted forest wound,
And your sad notes supply the trumpet's sound.
Why, Philomel, dost mourn the Thracian rage?
It is enough, thy grief at last assuage;
His crimson faults are now grown white with age.
Now mourn this bird; the cause of all thy woe
Was great, 'tis true, but it was long ago.
Mourn, all ye wing'd inhabitants of air,
But you, my turtle, take the greatest share;
You too liv'd constant friends and free from strife
Your kindness was entire, and long as life:
What Pylades to his Orestes vow'd.
To thee, poor Poll, thy friendly turtle show'd,
And kept his love as long as fate allow'd.
But, ah! what did thy faith, thy plumes, and tail,
And what thy pretty speaking art, avail?
And what that thou wert giv'n, and pleas'd my miss,
Since now the bird's unhappy glory dies ?
A lovely verdant green grac'd ev'ry quill,
The deepest vivid red did paint thy bill;
In speaking thou didst ev'ry bird excel,
None prattled, and none lisp'd the words so well.
'Twas envy only sent this fierce disease;
Thou wert averse to war, and liv'dst in peace,
A talking harmless thing, and lov'dst thine ease.
The fighting quails still live 'midst all their strife,
And even that, perhaps, prolongs their life.
Thy meat was little, and thy prattling tongue
Would ne'er permit to make thy dinner long:
Plain fountain water all thy drink allow'd,
And nut and poppy-seed were all thy food.
The preying vultures and the kites remain,
And the unlucky crow still caws for rain;
The chough still lives 'midst fierce Minerva's hate,
And scarce nine hundred years conclude her fate;
But my poor Poll now hangs his sickly head,
My Poll, my present from the east, is dead.
Best things are sooner snatch'd by cov'tous fate,
To worse she freely gives a longer date;
Thersites brave Achilles' fate surviv'd,
And Hector fell, whilst all his brothers liv'd.
Why should I tell what vows Corinna made?
How oft she begg'd thy life, how oft she pray'd ?
The seventh day came, and now the Fates begin
To end the thread, they had no more to spin;
Yet still he talk'd, and when death nearer drew,
His last breath said, "Corinna, now adieu!"
There is a shady cypress grove below,
And thither (if such doubtful things we know)
The ghosts of pious birds departed go;
'Tis water'd well, and verdant all the year,
And birds obscene do never enter there;
There harmless swans securely take their rest,
And there the single Phoenix builds her nest;
Proud peacocks there display their gaudy train,
And billing turtles coo o'er all the plain:
To these dark shades my parrot's soul shall go,
And with his talk divert the birds below;
Whilst here his bones enjoy a noble grave,
A little marble, and an epitaph:-
"In talking I did ev'ry bird excel,
And my tomb proves my mistress lov'd me well."


In mortem psittaci

The parrat from east India to me sent,
Is dead, al-fowles her exequies frequent.
Go goodly birdes, striking your breasts bewaile,
And with rough clawes your tender cheekes assaile.
For wofull haires let piece-torne plumes abound,
For long shrild trumpets let your notes resound.
Why Philomele doest Tereus leudnesse mourne?
All wasting years have that complaint out worne.
Thy tunes let this rare birdes sad funerall borrowe,
Itis is great, but auntient cause of sorrowe.
All you whose pineons in the cleare aire sore,
But most thou friendly turtle-dove, deplore.
Full concord all your lives was you betwixt,
And to the end your constant faith stood fixt.
What Pylades did to Orestes prove,
Such to the parrat was the turtle dove.
But what availde this faith? her rarest hue?
Or voice that howe to change the wilde notes knew?
What helpes it thou wert given to please my wench,
Birdes haples glory, death thy life doth quench.
Thou with thy quilles mightst make greene Emeraldsdarke,
And passe our scarlet of red saifrons marke.
No such voice-feigning bird was on the ground,
Thou spokest thy words so well with stammering sound.
Envy hath rapt thee, no fierce warres thou movedst,
Vaine babling speech, and pleasant peace thou lovedst.
Behould how quailes among their battailes live,
Which do perchance old age unto them give.
A little fild thee, and for love of talke,
Thy mouth to taste of many meates did balke.
Nuts were thy food, and Poppie causde thee sleepe,
Pure waters moisture thirst away did keepe.
The ravenous vulture lives, the Puttock hovers
Around the aire, the Cadesse raine discovers,
And Crowes survive armes-bearing Pallas hate,
Whose life nine ages scarce bring out of date.
Dead is that speaking image of mans voice,
The Parrat given me, the farre worlds best choice.
The greedy spirits take the best things first,
Supplying their voide places with the worst.
Thersites did Protesilaus survive,
And Hector dyed his brothers yet alive.
My wenches vowes for thee what should I show,
Which storrnie South-windes into sea did blowe?
The seventh day came, none following mightst thou see,
And the fates distaffe emptie stood to thee,
Yet words in thy benummed palate rung,
Farewell Corinna cryed thy dying tongue.
Elisium hath a wood of holme trees black,
Whose earth doth not perpetuall greene-grasse lacke,
There good birds rest (if we beleeve things hidden)
Whence uncleane fowles are said to be forbidden.
There harrnelesse Swans feed all abroad the river,
There lives the Phoenix one alone bird ever.
There Junoes bird displayes his gorgious feather,
And loving Doves kisse eagerly together.
The Parrat into wood receiv'd with these,
Turnes all the goodly birdes to what she please.
A grave her bones hides, on her corps great grave,
The little stones these little verses have.
This tombe approoves, I pleasde my mistresse well,
My mouth in speaking did all birds excell.


Well-known member
Parrot of the Month 🏆
May 14, 2016
Cleveland area
The Rickeybird, 40-year-old Patagonian Conure
Wow. Thank you for this. I think it speaks to the Eternity that holds us and our beloveds close. Every word touched me, even I didn't understand every one!
Thank you again.

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